The Village of Westbury recently designated six sites as historic landmarks in an effort to celebrate the rich foundation the community was built upon. In the coming weeks, The Westbury Times will be taking a closer look at these significant sites, which have had an indelible effect in shaping Westbury into the community it is today.
The Hicks family’s residence in Westbury dates back to the 1600s, long before its nursery business even started, which explains the deep-rooted ancestral connections it holds with the community today. After the family had been Quaker farmers in the Westbury area for more than 150 years, Isaac Hicks established Hicks Nurseries in 1853, which started out as a fruit tree business, according to current Hicks Nurseries president and Isaac’s great-great-great-grandson, Stephen Hicks.
It comes as no surprise that Hicks Nurseries was selected as one of the first six historical landmarks in Westbury to be formally identified earlier this year.
Part of what has made Hicks Nurseries so successful are the contributions each generation has made, said Stephen, including the development of the Hicks Yew hedge by the horticulturist Henry Hicks. The Hicks Yew continues to be a staple in landscaping today and one of the original plants is still on Hicks Nurseries’ property.
Throughout its involved past of landscaping on Long Island, Hicks Nurseries has also taken part in landscaping Sagamore Hill, the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, and the John D. Rockefeller estate, Stephen said. But what remains most important is that Hicks is a family business serving local people.
“Our goal as a business really is to have our customers view us as the place they can come to [that will] help them achieve the beautification of their home and garden,” said Stephen. The Hicks staff values all of their customers, whether they be in search of one plant or meeting to discuss landscape design. Stephen wants to ensure that Hicks will remain a “place where there’s no pressure, no intimidation, and [people] can get their questions answered and be pointed in the right direction.”
Throughout an existence spanning six generations, Hicks has evolved from its fruit tree beginnings and developed into an all-encompassing nursery, selling flowers, shrubs, trees, plants and more. However, even with the differing landscaping demands of today, the Hicks family has not forgotten where their business began.
“People are surprised that we’re such an old company, that we’re as large as we are, that we’re family owned and operated,” said Karen Musgrave, Hicks Nurseries’ marketing and education specialist. “Those facts make us special and we don’t take advantage of that.”
Displaying its neighborly atmosphere, Hicks hosts free, family-friendly events to celebrate the seasons, including the upcoming Fall Harvest, which runs from Sept. 17 to Nov. 1. The festival features hayrides, farm animals, harvest competitions, storytelling by Otto the Ghost and delicious fall treats.
Stephen wants Hicks to be seen as Westbury’s longtime partner, and holding free events is the perfect way to give back to a community that has been shopping at Hicks for 163 years.
“Our customers have grown with us; generations of families have come for advice,” said Musgrave.
And if both newcomers and old-timers continue to flow into Hicks as they have in the past, the nursery will surely be around for generations to come.
Learn more about the Robert Bacon Children’s Library here.